Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Certified Wildlife Habitat

Today we registered our yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. The National Wildlife Federation has a page on gardening for wildlife which lays out the components. I have boldfaced the ones I have.

Walk with me ....
What food sources do I need to certify?
Your habitat needs three of the following types of plants or supplemental feeders:

Seeds from a plant
Bird Feeder
Squirrel Feeder
(basically the same hopper and fly-through feeders as the birds use)
Hummingbird Feeder (I own one, which I hang in summer if I see hummingbirds; I also plant suitable flowers)
Butterfly Feeder

What water sources do I need to certify?
Your habitat needs one of the following sources to provide clean water for wildlife to drink and bathe:

Seasonal Pool (parts of the prairie garden flood)
Water Garden/Pond (used to have, don't currently)
Butterfly Puddling Area (puddles at the end of the driveway)
Rain Garden (corner of house near main door)

I keep trying to coax the butterflies into puddling somewhere they will be safer. They drink from the puddles in the road too. :/ So far, they'll puddle if I put out a dish, but they won't quit drinking out of the driveway.

What kind of cover should I provide?
Wildlife need at least two places to find shelter from the weather and predators:

Wooded Area
Bramble Patch
Ground Cover
Rock Pile or Wall

Roosting Box
Dense Shrubs or Thicket
Brush or Log Pile

Burrow (rabbits dig their own)
Meadow or Prairie
Water Garden or Pond

Not listed on their site, but different and enormously popular: the giant piles of mulch. My detritus food chain is 3 days to apex. \o/ Shelter for beneficial bacteria, fungi, pillbugs, beetles, earthworms, centipedes, spiders, and toads.

And let's not forget the honeybee tree near the orchard. :D

How can I give wildlife a place to raise their young?
You need at least two places for wildlife to engage in courtship behavior, mate, and then bear and raise their young:

Mature Trees
Meadow or Prairie

Nesting Box
Host Plants for Caterpillars
Dead Trees or Snags
Dense Shrubs or a Thicket

Water Garden or Pond

In addition to the standing snags, we also have rotten logs.

Not mentioned on their page, dead leaves are important for many ground-dwelling species. What little raking we do generally gets dumped atop my flowerbeds, creating a cozy place for dead leaf likers.


What sustainable gardening practices do I need to certify?
You need to employ practices from at least two of the three categories below to help manage your habitat in a sustainable way. To better help wildlife, we advocate using one or more practices from each category.

Soil and Water Conservation:
• Riparian Buffer
Capture Rain Water from Roof (see Rain Garden)
Xeriscape (water-wise landscaping) (because we water almost nothing)
• Drip or Soaker Hose for Irrigation
Limit Water Use
• Reduce Erosion (i.e. ground cover, terraces)
Use Mulch
Rain Garden

I hand-water newly planted things, potted plants, and fancier things like herbs if the weather gets too dry. But for the most part, things I plant are expected to take care of themselves.

Controlling Exotic Species:
Practice Integrated Pest Management (all my mantids, let me show you them!)
Remove Non-Native Plants and Animals (well, I try)
Use Native Plants
Reduce Lawn Areas

Areas of lawn: space between house and orchard, south lot, ritual meadow. Everything else: orchard, forest in streetside yard, savanna, prairie garden.

Organic Practices:
Eliminate Chemical Pesticides (rarely used to control invasives such as Japanese beetles nothing will eat)
Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers (occasionally come in potting soil)

I have neither the funds, patience, nor inclination to use pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or other agrochemicals. I use compost or composted manure most often. Sometimes potting soil comes with some added, and I've used a few soil amendments for fussy plants. But mostly I can't be bothered. I expect things to take care of themselves.

Not mentioned on their page, I'm also into permaculture, including guilds. Rather than trying to make a fancy garden out of everything, I draw much of my inspiration from local ecosystems and from indigenous food forests. My permaculture principles boil down to "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can." Gaia is sufficiently pleased with this arrangement to have planted an elderberry tree in the orchard that I didn't have to pay for. \o/

Learn more about how to design a wildlife garden and attract wildlife to your yard. Short on space? Use containers. Here is a video series on gardening for wildlife.
Tags: activism, gardening, illinois, nature, personal, wildlife
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